Coming to the end of a day seminar on dissassociative disorder. An interesting day and good refreshment of skills. Already an area I (Stuart) work extensively with. Interesting to contrast a cognitive and biomedical model with the psychoanalysis model I use and was trained in.
Lacan and Psychoanalysis
Several clients have asked for more information on Lacan and his mirror theory. It’s not the easiest thing to summarise since it is a key part of his work which developed over his career. However a few points are outlined here.
Lacan is thought to have developed the idea of the mirror when analysing the case of Aimee, a young woman who stabbed an actress to death. Lacan examined the details of the case and concluded that she committed the murder in an attempt to attack herself. The actress represented the fame, success and prestige craved by Aimee herself. She thus projected her disappointment and self hatred onto the hatred and symbolically attacked her ideal self.
As Lacan developed his theory he concluded that because human babies are born helpless, effectively prematurely, they use mimicry to learn how to master themselves and their bodies.
Mimicry therefore causes the child to identify with an image outside of themselves, maybe a real image, or perhaps the image of another child.
By identifying with an image outside of self, I can do things not possible before. This is an “identification” with the other party.
This however results in a fundamental alienation, the “imaginary” is created where if the other child or image wants something, the child will desire it too, extending to other desires and feelings being shared. Lacan believed that the ego is constituted by this alienating identification, and that this is how narcissism develops in the individual.
This causes negative hallucination, with the ego appearing whole and complete, when actually it is anything but.
The ego, if allowed to maintain this illusion will create a false narrative based on the fiction.
Later Lacan developed the idea of the “ideal”, a perfect version of self based on internalised identifications, for example the demands or wishes of parents (implied, explicit or through absense). This identification with the “ideal” draws on the realm of the symbolic world, meant to give the person context and structure.
Meanwhile the narcissistic imaginary register Lacan developed earlier is now shown to depend on this symbolic origin. The image that people seek in a narcissistic desire is one to match the “ideal”.
From here develops the two terms “ego ideal” and “ideal ego”. The second is the person you imagine yourself to be like, the first is the reason you want to be like them. If you fantasise about being a hero, the “ideal hero” is the hero, the “ego ideal” is the source of that desire.
Lacan eventually adds the category of the “real”, the self that “resists symbolism absolutely”.
“reality” therefore is a mixture of symbolic and imagination, and the real is excluded from our situation within imposed narrative, and not dominated by the internalised symbolic.
Lacan therefore comes up with the three registers – the real, the symbolic and the imaginary.
When working with clients I tend to simplify and integrate other models. I find it easier to conceptualise the ideal or desired archetype which represents the perfectionism desired, usually based on judgements from others. The imaginary can be summarised as the mirror we see in the eyes and behaviour of others as we emotionally associate with them, and the real is the core identity, the part of us which is “good enough”. This is not to reject the first two, rather to be self aware and empowered.
A useful text to dip into is “Lacan for beginners” Leader & Groves.
I (Stuart) use elements of a number of thinkers in psychoanalysis in my psychoanalysis and psychotherapy practices. Lacan is one such thinker, often along with Jung and Klein.
Contacting us for psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, counselling, CBT, Coaching, NLP Edinburgh Falkirk Glasgow
We may take slightly longer to respond to psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, counselling, coaching, CBT, NLP, mindfulness enquiries from the 28th March to the 30th March.
Today (Friday 28th) I am off to clinic in Edinburgh in a few minutes to provide psychoanalysis and CBT support.
Tomorrow we are both in Glasgow at a seminar for CPD.
Sunday we will start getting back to email and contact form enquiries.
We appreciate your patience in the meantime! 🙂 🙂
Using the narrative in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy
The narrative, or the story being followed and invested in by the client is a concept often associated more with humanistic psychology and positive psychology because of it’s connection with eastern psychology. However the narrative can link very well to psychoanalysis.
Who am I, what is my archetype?
The archetype is sometimes the ideal person or concept that we strive to be. In his Red Book, Jung refers to having to slay the blond warrior and allowing oneself to become the authentic person. More generally the archetypes that correspond in our unconscious minds to ourselves and other key players in our lives are crucial to the make up of the narrative we follow.
The Lacanian mirror
To paraphrase the Lacanian idea, essentially there are three versions of us – the real us, who we are pretty much unaware of because we are not happy with it, the ideal us or “super-me” who is perfectionism embodied (and who corresponds in many ways to an archetype) and the mirror image who we see of ourselves in the eyes and reactions of others. Our narrative becomes focused on trying the third “me” to look like the “super-me” and this becomes a main part of the narrative.
The negative Narrative
In CBT having a negative narrative is often referred to as catatrophising. We ask “what if” repeatedly until we end up with disaster. “what if I get an unexpected bill, then what if I go overdrawn, then what if the rent check bounces, then what if my home is repossessed and I am living on the street with addiction issues”. What often happens is we approach a problem with the expectation that something bad will happen, then we become anxious and tense in anticipation, creating anticipatory anxiety.
Having a positive anticipation looks completely different. As a respected colleague John Parkin suggests in his mindfulness based teachings, what if you approach the problem with the idea that it will be really easy and straightforward. The first answer is – no anticipatory fear and anxiety to make you freeze up or become stressed. The second answer is that you will approach it in an optimum state of calm preparedness – flexible and calm, ready for anything even if things are not 100% perfect.
Object relations, the Kleinian model of relationships and our interactions teaches us about many of the problems with feelings of rejection, abandonment and conflict. The lessons we learn through these experiences often influence how we perceive and anticipate events, especially when they involve interacting with people.
Creating your own narrative
Creating your own narrative, and having the realisation that you have every right to create your own narrative is a very empowering concept. The narrative needs to focus as much as possible on the “real me” which in Lacanian theory we tend to suppress, enabling the concept of “authenticity” as much as possible. This means that we have an authentic concept of ourselves, and life around us, but have the courage to write the script of how that interaction might turn out. Using this model, and other techniques alongside it, the client can learn to make positive and proactive choices, reject old conditioning from others, and become aware that they are “good enough” – neither “flawed”, nor destined to strive for “perfectionism”.
Psychoanalysis in Edinburgh, Falkirk and Glasgow
Stuart trained in psychoanalysis and clinical hypnotherapy from 1993-1996 with over 200 assessed cases (over 1,000 client hours) and external assessment via the NVQ system. He graduated in 1996 with a diploma in analysis and hypnotherapy and an NVQ Level 4 Training and Development. Since graduation he has completed CPD training in a range of other models of psychotherapy, counselling, coaching, NLP and mental health, along with a MSc Psychology.